Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA student organizations hosting book drive for area children

April 14, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
Stephen F. Austin State University's Jacks Council on Family Relations is partnering with SFA's Residence Hall Association to host a children's book drive to benefit area children. Pictured, from left, are Kelsey Ticer, SFA graduate student and vice president for JCFR; Dr. Jennifer Newquist, SFA assistant professor of child development and family living; and Shonda Hortness, JCFR member and SFA senior majoring in child development and family living.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University's Jacks Council on Family Relations is partnering with SFA's Residence Hall Association to host a children's book drive to benefit children at Greater East Texas Community Action Program Head Start and Early Head Start.

"Research shows one way to help preschoolers prepare for school is by having books at home so parents and caregivers are able to read to them on a regular basis," said Dr. Jennifer Newquist, SFA assistant professor of child development and family living. "These donated books will go to children to take home and keep."

Shonda Hortness, JCFR member and SFA senior majoring in child development and family living, is helping lead the book drive and has challenged organizations to collect 1,000 books.

"Children love books and get excited to receive one that is theirs. We hope this gesture will encourage someone at home to read to these children," Hortness said. "Reading to a child is a bonding as well as educational experience, and it is important to nurture our children."

Both SFA student organizations will be collecting books for children in infancy through 5 years through Friday, April 22. Donation sites include Sonic on North Street, Hastings and The Precious Cycle located next to Pizza Hut on South Street. Also, SFA students can bring donations and deposit them in the boxes located on each floor of the residence halls. Donations also can be arranged for pick up by contacting Hortness at (936) 553-8060.

Hortness said she is determined to make this drive a success due to her personal connection with the project. Having two grandchildren who love to read, Hortness has witnessed firsthand how important reading is to children.

"Reading is not only beneficial to children's cognitive development, but also to their emotional development," Hortness said. "I study young children, and it is my responsibility to know the ins and outs of child development. However, I do not need stats to show me how much of an influence reading has on children. I see it in their eyes when we share a book. I hear it in their voices when they 'read' the pictures to me, and I feel it in my heart when they ask me for a new book."